Cholesterol In What Foods

What foods contain cholesterol? Only foods of animal origin. Egg yolks and organ meats are especially high in cholesterol. And in varying amounts, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and animal fats such as butter or lard all supply cholesterol, too. Cholesterol is not found in vegetable oils, margarine, or egg whites, or in plant-based foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and peas.

As mentioned before, cholesterol and saturated fatty acids often occur together in animal-based foods. That's why they sometimes get confused. Sirloin steak, butter, and Cheddar cheese, for example, all contain both saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. On the other hand, shellfish and organ meats are high in cholesterol, yet they're low in saturated fatty acids.

In foods of animal origin, both lean and fatty tissues contain cholesterol. That's why some low-fat foods, such as squid and shrimp, can be relatively high in cholesterol. The sauce or butter they're dipped in can boost their cholesterol content, too.

Even though some plant-based foods (margarine, vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds) are high in fat or saturated fat, they have no cholesterol, even margarines made with trans fats.

So why do some vegetable dishes and grain-based baked goods contain cholesterol? It's the added ingre-

What's the fat and cholesterol quotient of your eating style? For each section, check one box in each column that matches your usual food choices over the course of a day or several days. Choosing from every column is okay. That's part of making trade-offs! Remember: Your overall fat intake over time is what counts—not each individual choice.

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

(3 points)

(2 points)

(1 point)

Reasonable portions,

Some reasonable portions and

Big portions of meat, poultry,

equivalent to 5 to 7 oz., of

some bigger portions, equiva-

and fish, equivalent to much

meat, poultry, or fish per day

lent to somewhat more than

more than 7 oz. per day

(or less if you also eat protein-

7 oz., of meat, poultry, or fish

rich beans, eggs, and nuts)

per day

Low-fat and fat-free milk dairy

Both low-fat and whole-milk

Whole-milk dairy products and


dairy products, and some

higher-fat products, such as

higher-fat products, such as



Variety of lean meat, skinless

Some lean and some higher-

High-fat meat, such as juicy

poultry, and fish

fat meat and poultry

steak or high-fat sausage, or

poultry with skin on

Column 1 (3 points)

  • Broiled, grilled, or roasted foods such as meat, poultry, and fish, and steamed, boiled, or baked vegetables
  • Little or no gravy or creamy, high-fat sauces
  • Low-fat salad dressing or small amount (1 tbsp. per serving) of regular salad dressing
  • Fruit, frozen yogurt, and other low-fat desserts, and low-fat or trans-free snacks
  • Small amounts of stick margarine, butter, or high-fat spread or toppings on breads or veg-etables-and healthy oils
  • Bagels, bread, tortillas, and other low-fat breads
  • An egg yolk or less a day

Column 1 subtotal

Column 2 (2 points)

  • Some broiled, grilled, or roasted foods, and others that are fried
  • Some gravy or high-fat sauces
  • Some regular salad dressing
  • Some low-fat desserts and snacks, and some with more fat, such as regular ice cream, cake, cookies, and regular chips
  • Mostly just small amounts of stick margarine, butter, or other high-fat spreads or toppings on breads or vegetables
  • Some low-fat breads and some higher-fat breads such as croissants, muffins, and doughnuts
  • Usually an egg yolk or less a day, but sometimes more

Column 2 subtotal_

Column 3 (1 point)

  • Mostly fried or sauteed meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables
  • Plenty of gravy and/or high-fat sauces
  • Liberal use of regular salad dressing
  • Plenty of high-fat desserts and snacks
  • Liberal amounts of stick margarine, butter, or other high-fat spreads or toppings on bread or vegetables
  • Mostly higher-fat breads
  • 2 or 3 egg yolk breakfasts, almost daily

Column 3 subtotal_

Your score:_. Each box is worth 3, 2, or 1 point(s).

20 to 30 points—You're savvy about the fat in your food choices.

16 to 19 points—You've got the idea. Yet you still have room to trim fat, especially saturated fat and trans fat and cholesterol, in your food choices a bit more. Read on!

10 to 15 points—For your good health, you're wise to rethink your overall eating style for less total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Read on for simple, practical tips!

dients: egg yolks, cheese, milk, meat, poultry, butter, or lard. Some common examples are refried beans made with lard, greens cooked with bacon, and muffins made with butter and egg yolks. The amount of cholesterol per serving varies with the recipe.

When shopping, if you spot a food that's labeled "no cholesterol" or "cholesterol-free," it cannot have any more than 2 grams of saturated fat. However, you'll want to read the rest of the food label to find out about the total fat content; it could still be high in fat.

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